Ryan Hiller moved from New Orleans to San Diego in 2006. He had played Winstons during a 2003 national tour. “After Katrina, I knew I needed a change,” he says, “and the beautiful women and beaches of sunny California were the perfect lure.”
He describes his music as “a blend of soul, funk, groove, acoustic, jazz, and rock. Most of my gigs around town are solo performances, and they sound a bit different from a whole band. I use a series of pedals including a loop station during my solo gigs, and this allows me to create a much bigger sound than a guitar and microphone alone.”
While still a teenager living in Utah (“but I’m not Mormon”), his band Real Eyes won opening slots for the Black Eyed Peas and John Scofield. He relocated to Louisiana to pursue a degree in jazz performance from the University of New Orleans, where he got to sample the rock-and-roll life as well.
“I was playing the Voodoo Fest in New Orleans, and Velvet Revolver was one of the bands on the ticket. My girlfriend and I were having a beer by their tent, and Slash came out and took a piss right next to us. It was very awkward at the time, but I guess when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.”
Hiller was drawing inspiration from one popular San Diego pastime long before he moved here. “My dad once told me that life is like a wave, and you spend most of it waiting. Sometimes you crash, and sometimes you catch the wave of your life. And when you catch the wave of your life, you have to ride it till the end. Something like that, anyway. The way he said it was more profound.”
Ryan Hiller appears Thursday night at the Hotel Indigo on Ninth Avenue downtown.